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If You Drink Coffee, You May Live Longer

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If you're healthy and drink coffee daily, you may die later than people who don't drink coffee -- so suggest the results of a more than decade-long study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study looked at the effect drinking coffee -- not caffeine, but coffee itself, even decaf -- on people between the ages of 50 and 71 who had no prior history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer. After adjusting for smoking and other potentially life-limiting factors, the researchers found that the people who didn't drink coffee died sooner than the people who did. This effect was pronounced both in people who later died from specific diseases and those who didn't. Cancer was the only disease where mortality didn't appear to be affected by coffee drinking.

And the more cups per day the participants drank, the less likely they were to be dead by the end of the study. Most of the coffee drinkers took in between two and three cups per day; of this group, the men were 10% and the women 13% less likely to die during the study than the abstainers, according to AP's math.

The researchers have no idea why this is. They don't claim that drinking coffee causes you to live longer. They don't ascribe specific life-giving benefits to any particular compound in coffee. But of the 402,260 participants over a 13-year period, those who abstained from the beverage were likelier to kick the bucket.

Mirroring the study’s results, some researchers have become increasingly certain that drinking coffee may be good for you in some ways. An analysis published last month in Current Diabetes Review reviewed 13 recent coffee-diabetes studies and concluded that "habitual coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes." Meanwhile, other studies have suggested that people who already have Type 2 diabetes may want to be careful with the consumption: Coffee may increase insulin resistance.

Bottom line: It's still way too soon for the folks at Starbucks (SBUX) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) to start making any health claims.
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